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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of May 28 - June 3, 2003


Warm Springs Ranch sold for $12 million

Amid lawsuits, new owners
plan for the future

Express Staff Writer

A California-based investment company has purchased the expansive Warm Springs Ranch Restaurant and Golf Course, but is not planning any immediate changes as a lawsuit challenging the deal lingers in court.

Sun Valley Ventures LLC, a California company led by investor and developer Erwin D. Mieger, has brokered a deal to purchase the approximately 76-acre Ketchum property for $12 million from the Simpson Family Limited Partnership, a longtime ownership group based in the Wood River Valley. The company in March accepted title to the property on Warm Spring Road, including its restaurant, golf course and tennis facilities.

However, the sale of the property by the Simpson family to Mieger and his associates has prompted a lawsuit from Ketchum resident G. William Tischer, who has asserted that he and his company, Warm Springs Ranch and Restaurant LLC, has a valid contract to purchase the property. The complaint comes immediately on the heels of a lawsuit filed by Mieger and Sun Valley Ventures alleging that Tischer violated the terms of his contract, and is no longer in a position to enforce its terms.

Either—or perhaps both—of the lawsuits could decide the future of Warm Springs Ranch Restaurant and Golf Course.

On April 11 in U.S. District Court in Boise, an attorney for Mieger, R. Miles Stanislaw, filed a complaint against Tischer, his spouse Terry S. Tischer and Warm Springs Ranch and Restaurant LLC alleging that they violated the terms of a July 2002 contract to purchase the property from the Simpsons.

The suit notes that Warm Springs Ranch LLC last October accepted Mieger as a party to an option agreement, with an understanding that Mieger would provide $250,000 for a deposit on the property in exchange for 50 percent interest in Warm Springs Ranch and Restaurant LLC. The complaint alleges that the defendants after October 2002 violated the terms of the option agreement, which was amended in December 2002.

The suit alleges that Tischer "committed fraud" and "materially breached the parties’ agreed Amendment of the Option Agreement."

The Mieger suit asks for repayment of funds, damages and recognition that the agreement was violated.

Mieger earlier this year negotiated to purchase the property—including any interest the Simpson family held in the original contract. Title to the property was issued and recorded on March 18.

Henry Dean, a Ketchum resident and partner in Sun Valley Ventures, said Tuesday that Sun Valley Ventures has been informed by an attorney for Warm Springs Ranch and Restaurant LLC that the Tischer group by June 18 intends to exercise its original option to buy the property.

"They have made a demand upon us to sell them the property by June 18, and we’ve flat out said, "No," Dean said. "There will be no closing on that contract."

On April 15 in California Superior Court in San Francisco, Warm Springs Ranch and Restaurant LLC filed a lawsuit against Sun Valley Ventures and Mieger alleging that Mieger—in purchasing the property from the Simpson family—illegally interfered with the original contract. It asks the court to assert the validity of the Tischers’ contract, which does not technically expire until July 1.

Tischer could not be reached for comment on the suit.

Stanislaw said Tischer and his attorney have not responded to the suit filed in Boise.

Dean, however, said Sun Valley Ventures has established its ownership and intends to keep the property. "We’re very confident where this will end up," he said. "We own the ground."

Dean noted that the Simpson family as part of the $12 million purchase deal was essentially indemnified of any liability or wrongdoing in the matter. "The Simpsons have absolutely no interest in the property," he said.

Dean said Sun Valley Ventures, after it establishes that no other parties have a legal right to purchase the ranch, will not make vast immediate changes to the site.

"We plan to be very patient and move very slowly," he said.

Dean noted that the company plans to establish a local advisory committee to help determine how the site should be developed. Tentative plans for the property include a luxury hotel, residential units and affordable housing near the main compound, and relocation of the tennis courts.

The restaurant will operate under an interim lease, but will likely be eliminated in the future, Dean said. The golf course could remain as such, but otherwise would be maintained as open space, possibly through a deal with the Hailey-based Wood River Land Trust, Dean said.



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